The IRS sent out a warning last week regarding another phone scam  where the fraudsters are now using phone numbers that mimic IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers while demanding payment on nonexistent tax bills.

Yes, even after tax season, they are still at it.  In the latest scam, the crooks claim to be calling from a local IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center.  Their computers display the TAC phone number which will appear on the taxpayer’s Caller ID when the call is made.

If a taxpayer questions the scammers’ demand for payment, the crooks tell the taxpayer to go to the IRS’s website to look up the local TAC office phone number to verify it as the same one on their Caller ID.  The crooks hang up and call back in a few minutes after the taxpayer has ‘verified’ the phone number.  They will then again demand payment, typically via a debit card.

Prior to this, it was common for scammers to pretend to be calling from sheriff’s offices, motor vehicle departments, federal agencies and a host of other official sounding offices to convince taxpayers the call is legitimate.  Often, there were threats of immediate arrest if payment was not immediately made.  All bogus, of course.

The IRS noted, as it has many times before, that its employees at local TAC offices don’t call taxpayers demanding payment for old tax bills.  The IRS agent usually initiates contact by mail. Any contact from the IRS by phone is typically preceded by several letters or notices before any phone calls are made.  (If you are getting notices and haven’t responded to them, let us help you resolve the issues, whatever they are.  Lack of response to IRS bills and notices can lead to phone calls and visits from the IRS).

If you receive a call like this, you should just hang up without providing any information.  If you think there is a chance the call is real, ask for the agent’s name and ID number.  Then hang up and call the local TAC office and verify that such a person works there.

Keep your guard up.